Guerrilla Girls (est. 1985), Guerrilla Girls Review the Whitney, 1987. Purchase 2000.91 © Guerrilla Girls
The Whitney Museum of American Art won’t spare itself when it opens an exhibition about the art of protest on 18 August. Among the works opposing the Vietnam War, supporting the fight for civil rights, championing feminism and criticising Uncle Sam from the 1940s until today, will be examples of the Whitney in the firing line. The section called “Strike, Boycott, Advocate: the Whitney Archive,” looks at “artists-led engagement with, and frequent opposition to the Whitney”, says the press release. Among the list of its critics are the Guerrilla Girls, among others. In 1971, Alice Neel joined fellow artists, including Faith Ringgold and Michela Williams, mightily unimpressed with the museum's attempt to play catch-up with contemporary art by African-American artists. “Doty is a four-letter word,” read Neel’s placard as she joined the picket line on New York's Fifth Avenue, a reference to the white curator who organised the show, Robert Doty. Fifteen of the 75 artists he had selected withdrew from the show, which was boycotted by a coalition of black artists. Although called An Incomplete History of Protest, at the Whitney protest starts at home.